It’s sending tenacles along the floor. They’re reaching….
Botanical Soap Opera
The whole thing began innocently enough. My neighbor Rose brought me a sweet little African Violet as a house-warming gift.
It was all in bloom, lovely violet flowers tipped with white, in a small plastic pot on a dainty saucer that matched the blooms. Obviously, it had been forced into bloom early by the florist who sold it. I’m certain they weren’t meant to bloom as such a tender age.
Maybe that’s the root of the whole problem, where early violethood went wrong, much like child stars forced to act beyond their years and who act out later in life with dismal results.
My journal reveals what happened after a seemingly happy few years of blooming and impressing all who saw the African Violet. Eventually, Miss Violet spawned another violet, and still all was well.
Then, like tendrils of evil, everything went wrong.
Journal Entry No. 1
It is with great regret and profound dismay that I feel I must inform you of an apparent parting of the ways between Miss Violet and her pot mate Miss Violet-White.
I am at a loss to understand why two African Violets, who have lived in peace and harmony for three years, who were born of and live on the same roots, have now been rent asunder. Indeed, they have turned their backs one upon the other, refusing to abut or communicate. Any appendage that has touched the other’s has been banished and left to perish, thus increasing the growing aloofness between the two.
In their glory days they combined to make a sum more magnificent than it its parts, reaching 18 inches wide and 13 inches high, their leaves pressing against the other’s to strive for additional height and glory. Their relationship flowered and blooms of awe-inspiring beauty covered the colossus from March through October. Now, in their ruinous conflict, they are reduced to the mundane, the ordinary, the humble.
I do not yet fear for their lives, as each appears dark green and healthy. It is their emotional health for which I agonize. No good can come of this. I see no way the two will reunite and return to their former symbiotic relationship. Can two former co-stars find health and happiness living apart in the same pot? I can only hope this is some form of African Violet PMS.
Journal Entry No. 2
Was there more I could have done? I did everything I could think of. Was I remiss? Could I somehow have averted this tragedy? I pace the hospital corridors, chastising myself. I should have seen it coming.
I knew they weren’t themselves lately. I saw the depression, the drooping demeanor. Where once they had thrived, now there was gloom. I gave them anti-depressants—the good stuff that Dr. Schultz recommended. I insisted on name brand, not the generic drugs. Nothing but the best.
Then came today. In one ghastly moment, Miss Violet cast herself over the edge in a plunge to the unyielding Formica below. Oh, the inhumanity! An ill-advised yearning to be free has left her rootless and ungrounded. Her symbiotic sister, Miss Violet White, was too weakened to follow and collapsed in the nest where they have resided for five years.
Immediately I went into triage mode. Miss Violet White was languishing, but Miss Violet was upside down on that brutal Formica plain. I gathered her tenderly, fitted her with neck and back braces, abraded her wounds, performed botanical CPR. Then I turned my attention to the pitiful sight of Miss Violet White. How much weight has she lost? She is emaciated.
Where did I go wrong? Is this the normal life span of these delicate creatures? Is my care plan lacking? Long periods of dehydration, followed by inundation? It works for all the rest of the plants in this house. Why not the African Violets? Maybe the stress of stardom became too much for them to bear. Should theirs names really be Paris and Lindsay?
As I write this, and pace the corridors, the two fight for their lives in ICU. They are, I am sad to say, forever separated. Maybe I did not understand the depths of the war they waged against each other last winter. Maybe it wasn’t détente after all when, during what I thought was a mediated peace treaty (the careful propping up with folded paper towels), the two seemed to set aside their differences and consented to bloom. To be sure, their efforts were insipid, nothing at all like their glory days. Only one thing is certain: life in Violetville has changed forever.
Please keep them in your thoughts during this difficult time.
Journal Entry No. 3
The violets number three. Each is confined in its separate pot. Each is healthy with lush green leaves.
Yet none has bloomed since the initial parting of the ways. I suspect they are harboring their strength to increase their numbers. Perhaps then their plan will be revealed.
Great read yo story is so full of drama it is great. I am sorry that after so long they can’t live together.
rats rats rats rats. Ann? Can you get into my post and delete the extraneous copies? I didn’t realize it was pasting again and again. Sure wish there was some way to edit a post. Or delete it and begin anew.
Maybe you can delete the whole thing and I’ll report it–just once this time.
Did it! I think that’s right. I’m always fascinated by the secret lives of plants. And writers.
Thank you. It was a copy and paste problem and this itty bitty box.
My New Friend.
Monday, July 16, 2012
One day I cam home from work to find a plant on my door step. There was a note attached to it.
” Thank You for the help you gave me”
I could not think who gave it to me. I had not given anyone help.
Well the plant was beautiful in full of bloom. The many buds un opened proved to me that there were more flowers to come. Upon checking the dish I noticed the plant was dry so I watered it and set it on the table.
When I returned the plant had turned it self toward the window in search of light. Or at least I don’t remember turning it to the light. It looked like it had grown a new stalk and flowers. I must have been mistaken it could not grow that quick, could it?
The next day the plant had doubles in size. What had happened to the small plant I found on my back steps. It seemed to be taking over my house and I did not want to stop it. I just continued to watch it get bigger and bigger as each day went by. As the weeks went by the plant took over most of the room it was in. I could not stop it. It was as if it had a mind of it’s own and would not stop till it took over the whole house. What was I to do?
As I sit here and write this I can see the plant looking around the corner watching me. I wonder what it has in mind. It is coming closer with a curl to its’ leaves. As if it is going to touch me. It is beneath my chair. What do I do? I grab my letter opener and start cutting the leaves. I has my leg and is climbing up to get me. Oh NO. I’m part of the plant now. HELP!
Great ending. I wonder what it’s like to be part of a plant?
Run for your life Marion….RUN!
A female Stephen King is blooming.
“That houseplant someone gave me is a miracle plant. How do I know? I know because it’s still alive today.”
All hands around the circle clapped as Izzie straightened her spine with pride.
“Like you, I’m a plant killer. My track record speaks for itself.” Izzie smoothed her pink and white calico skirt. “My lethal watering can turns houseplants to dry sticks.”
The slumped man to her right said, “We can all identify with that part. It’s ok.”
“As I’ve shared here before, I’ve struggled for years to cultivate a house full of green leafy friends–but to no avail. It all started 20 years ago with my first fern fatality. I got a bushy, frilly Boston fern and put it in a lovely delft blue cache-pot that matched the blue flowers on my chintz-covered sofa. It was beautiful!”
A chorus of “We understand!” reassured.
“After a week’s time, my prospering ruffly friend was nothing more than a blighted snarl of tiny brown stems with sparse corn flake-like leaves.” Izzie sank in her chair.
“My best intentions have killed so many plants. Sometimes they suffer for a month; other times they wither over night.” Izzie shook her head. “I know I should keep away from houseplants–to protect them from my serial plant killer ways–but live, chlorophyll-infused houseplants comfort me in ways that silk and plastic cannot.”
“We’re here for you, Izzie! We know how you feel!”
The ring of supporters stood as Marilyn, the leader, repeated the credo of the downtown chapter of Plant Killers Anonymous, “We love every houseplant. We respect every houseplant’s life. We mourn the houseplants who lost their lives in our hands. One day, we, too, will successfully nurture a houseplant!”
Izzie continued once everyone was seated. “But that houseplant that someone gave me! I must have more! I have scoured the Internet trying to find out what kind of houseplant has tenacles like my miracle plant! It’s thriving! It’s ending tenacles across the floor, up the walls, and around the TV stand. Trimming it is a joyful nightly ritual. I love my miracle plant!”
“Izzie, you give us hope!”
Marilyn walked to the middle of the circle of chairs where she turned to look at each person as she spoke. “Thank you, Izzie, for sharing your triumph. That’s what we do: We share our victories as well as our losses.”
The members clapped softly.
“All of us can empathize with the frustration and desperation born out of killing innocent houseplants despite valiant efforts. But dare I admit we are a tad green-eyed?”
Titters spread through the group like a gentle breeze through monkey grass.
One tentative hand went up in the air. “Excuse me, uh, Marilyn,” said Albert, the newest member of the group. Marilyn turned toward the voice.
“I must be honest. I, uh, left the ‘miracle plant’ for, uh, Izzie.”
A collective gasp interrupted Albert.
“Uh, I know we’re not supposed to endanger cellulose lives by giving houseplants to each other, but, uh . . ..”
All eyes were fixed on Albert; bodies leaned towards him as if hoping to catch some of his green thumbness.
“You see, I’m a research professor at A&M, and I’m a plant killer. My latest project has been to develop a hearty houseplant for those of us who have killed everything from philodendrons to cacti. The only way to truly test the ‘miracle plant’ was to present it as a regular, garden variety houseplant to one of us.”
Marilyn had just enough time to say, “Albert, you may have single-handedly disbanded our chapter” before he was completely surrounded.
That Houseplant Someone Gave Me
The emerald green houseplant with its heart-shaped leaves looked lovely on the stool in my kitchen. My neighbor had given it to me on Halloween. The plant grew rapidly and I draped it over the knick-knacks hanging on the wall. Soon it got out of hand and I cut it back. The next morning when I went into the kitchen, I noticed the leaves were starting to turn red. Throughout the day, the red color spread until it reached the tip of the leaves. I thought that was unusual; but it was such a pretty color, I reflected upon it no more. The next morning something was dripping from the tip of the leaves. As I neared the plant, it grabbed me and wound itself around me. I tried to pull it off, but the more I struggled, the tighter it became. That’s when I realized the leaves were dripping blood and it was mingled with mine. I pulled the plant out of the flowerpot and the plant went limp. I had survived and I was never speaking to that neighbor again!
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by Ann Linquist
Available in paperback or on Kindle